FLUFFY PJs, £1 thongs and loungewear is all I want for Christmas – and I’m thanking the festive fairies at Primark HQ for making all my wishes come true.
Oh, how I missed my favourite shop when it paused trading at the start of lockdown, so when I heard that 11 stores were opening for 24 hours, starting at 7am on Wednesday this week, I couldn’t wait to get my fix.
While some of the big retail giants such as Debenhams and Arcadia have buckled under the pandemic pressure this year, Primark is managing to stand strong, despite not trading online.
After seeing photographs of queues outside stores before they opened on Wednesday morning, I waited and snuck out of my house just before midnight to go to the Primark at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, East London.
My hope was to finish off my festive shopping while avoiding the Saturday afternoon crowds.
I WAS LIKE A KID LET LOOSE IN A TOY SHOP
With no queues outside, I ran through those great big automatic glass sliding doors, joyfully grabbing that little bit of freedom we’ve been granted and hardly able to contain my excitement.
It was the first time in four weeks that I have been able to shop in person.
Normally at this time of year, I would have listened to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas at least 100 times by now while cruising the shops.
Who would have thought I would actually miss the frantic shoppers, being too hot in my coat, getting stressed because I can’t find anything and then ditching it all to go and eat instead?
And yet here I was, embracing it all. With no queue at the entrance, and a comfortable amount of people in the store, I breathed — extra deeply, through my mask — to take in that musky warehouse smell that every Primark store has.
It felt so good to be “home”.
There were a few little tweaks inside the store, due to the current climate.
I was asked to use the hand sanitiser provided at the entrance and told to wear a mask. Clear signage, floor decals and security staff were there to guide customers so that contact is limited.
A Primarmy of employees were always on hand to manage the correct flow of the shop. And there was a frequent Tannoy announcement reminding us to follow social-distancing measures.
Shopping in Primark in the middle of the night was one of the oddest but greatest experiences for a superfan like me — like a kid being let loose in their favourite toy shop after hours.
I was free to roam without having to navigate my way around hordes of shoppers carrying big shopping baskets and elbowing each other.
For once, my shop didn’t result in an adult tantrum either. The perks of socially distanced shopping, I guess. Weaving between the aisles, I spotted the bargains I have missed so much — £1 thongs, tank tops for £1.80, £2.50 Disney cushions, a 90p lipstick, some make-up, baubles, Christmas cards, Mickey Mouse pyjamas and even a coffee cup.
Christmas shopping completed, I got to the till — complete with Perspex screen — to find that the job lot cost just £34.60.
THAT is the power of Primark.
It is why the retail giant is adored by fashion fans as they can keep up with the latest looks without breaking the bank.
Hardly a week goes by without a celebrity such as Mrs Hinch or Stacey Solomon sharing Primarni bargains with their millions of social media followers.
Whenever I’ve been strapped for cash and in need of a fashion or homeware fix, Primark’s been there for me. It knows what its customers want and need. Last year it opened the world’s biggest Primark store in Birmingham.
Covering 161,000 square feet over five floors, it occupies the entire site of a former shopping centre and is four times the size of its predecessor there. It features a Disney-themed cafe, a barber’s shop and a beauty studio.
This financial year the company, which already employs more than 70,000 people, has opened 12 more stores and created 2,800 new jobs — at a time when many retail workers are losing theirs.
And to lift our spirits after lockdown, it let us trawl the aisles for 24 hours — meaning we can shop until we literally drop, but in a socially distanced manner.
I can only imagine what they are going to do next year.
A Primark hotel? Well, it wouldn’t surprise me!
SLEIGH IT?ASOS Xmas jumper brutally mocked as shoppers think it has a VERY rude message
NOT ACE, STACEI’d never shop in my PJs like Stacey Solomon - I love being a glam mum
PRESENT & CORRECTMum shocked as Samaritan pays £160 bill she ran up on kids' Xmas gifts
CLEAN SWEEP'Lucky' cleaner wins £70k worth of Christmas presents for the second year
MANE ATTRACTIONWomen rave about B&M’s hot blowdry brush that makes hair look salon sleek
BIT RICHRich Kid who owns pad just for CLOTHES cries as skint mum struggles to feed kids
‘It is really great that Primark is doing this’
RESTAURANT supervisor Nilyay Efimova, 35, from Wood Green, London.
She says: "I think it is really great that Primark is doing this, especially for people like me who work late and don't get a chance to go shopping.
"As soon as I found out Primark was opening for 24 hours, I knew I had to get here and get my Christmas shopping done - and now I have really got carried away.
“My sister and my nephew, who is five, are getting more than I planned!
"It's the one time of year we can go shopping, we were in Lockdown for Black Friday, so now is the time to finally get out and enjoy the freedom.
"It's not crowded, the queues aren't horrendous, you can be happy and enjoy the experience.
“It's the best - and you can still socially distance yourself from others.
“I would suggest that other stores like Next and New Look should do this, they will definitely make more money doing so it’s hardly like it is empty here.”
‘I am sorting all my Christmas shopping tonight’
STUDENT Lauren Campbell, 22, from Gilford, London.
She says: “I love Primark so much and you can’t order anything online, so as soon as I heard they were opening for 24 hours I thought I had to take advantage of it.
“I am sorting all my Christmas shopping tonight for my mum, dad and brother.
“It just has everything here, so it means I don’t have to go to any other shop - after tonight I will be done for Christmas, it’s great.
“It definitely feels weird being here so late, but also feels normal as well because it’s hardly like it’s empty and doesn’t look like it's slowing down anytime soon either.
“They should do more of these for sure, it’s so great to finally get out of the house again and start to live a normal life.”
‘I can’t be tamed when it comes to shopping in Primark’
DANCER Amelia Willis, 21, from Gilford, London.
She says: “I have just finished my dance class which is every Wednesday, and it was great because it’s literally down the road from here so I thought I may as well get some Christmas shopping done as well - and it means I don’t have to rush.
“It feels really weird to be in Primark Christmas shopping at midnight, I thought we were going to get here and it would still be shut.
“It’s such a great idea that they have done this, it sounded too good to be true as first we kept thinking is it just a rumour or is this actually serious?
“I feel like I might be spending a while in here tonight, I like to take my time and actually look around everything. Primark is great for that, and their homeware section as well - that is where I will probably spend most of my time, and money.
“I have come here with a budget of £25 which I definitely think is doable, but I can’t be tamed when it comes to shopping in Primark, I love it so much - especially now there is no closing time as well.”
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]